While many places keep it simple with free peanuts and the old 2-for-1 standby, others really push the happy hour experience to new limits: Bar 333 slings $1 sliders; Harvey’s Central Grille serves up 5 glasses of wine for $15; Merriment Social features a new $5 burger each week; and more than a few places offer $1 tacos.
It’s been said that alcohol is recession proof. With that in mind, it’s nice to see many of our local watering holes going out of their way to offer up a bevy of deals to help stretch our already overly extended dollars. Whether you’re a professional looking to unwind after a stressful day at the office or a college kid in search of some cheap thrills, we scoured the area from Mequon to Oak Creek, the East Side to Oconomowoc, to find the absolute best deals around.
Mon-Fri, 2-6 p.m. A.J. Bombers was quiet, but you’d swear explosions were around the corner. Small bomber jets hung from the ceiling, ready at a moment’s notice to screech along the ceiling and drop a payload of peanuts at one of several depositories stationed around this popular Water Street bar. And a bushel of peanuts is just what you’ll want to finish off with your $2 domestic tall boy of choice. (or, if you prefer, two-for-one call drinks or $4 bomb-of-the-day shots).
1241 N. Water St., 414-221-9999
Daily 3-6 p.m.; Where else in Milwaukee can you enjoy fifty cents off domestic taps and $1-off any other beverages under the shade of a vintage biplane? Located across from Mitchell International, Amelia’s is a charming bar and diner with a front-row seat to all the take-offs and landings. Amelia’s also has a sweet retro mirrored dance floor, weekly karaoke nights, DJs and live music and a cute umbrella’d patio. And if you get bored while drinking, just read your placemat and learn all about Amelia Earhart’s many groundbreaking flights. Educational and cheap!
724 E. Layton Ave., 414-483-0345
Tues-Fri, 4-6 p.m. The flavors of Spain and Portugal migrate from their place of origin thanks to Chef Gregory Leon. With a rotating menu, you’ll want to keep coming back to taste it all. During the week, happy hour includes bite size appetizers – referred to as Pintxos – wine specials, cocktail specials and new specials each week on Reserve Wines by the glass.
315 E Wisconsin Ave. 414-369-3683
Mon-Fri, 4-6 p.m. Front-door greetings and friendly banter among staff and patrons suggests that most folks at the bar are regulars. And as long as they’re at the bar on a Wednesday, they get two-for-one deals on all drinks (Monday feature buckets of 6 domestic beers for $13.50). When you order a beer, the cheerful bartender serves it with an empty shot glass, perhaps anticipating your next choice. It goes down better with the crispy, gooey mozzarella wraps.
512 W. Layton Ave., 414-481-5520
Bistro Bar 333
Mon-Fri 5-7 p.m. Inside the Hyatt Regency, you’ll find the shiny, modern bar Bistro 333. For frequent travelers or the local looking for a drink and a meal, Bistro Bar 333 provides dining options for any time the day. By the time happy hour comes around, you’ll be greeted with discounted draft beer and house wine to enjoy before, during or after dinner.
333 W. Kilbourn Ave., 414-276-1234
Everyday. 4-8 p.m. Good thing Blackbird is such good friends with Hector’s Mexican restaurant because the free Tuesday taco bar they provide is divine. Help yourselves to shredded chicken, beans, cheese and all the necessary toppings while supplies last. The hip new kid on the block also offers $3 margaritas, two-for-one well drinks, $2 Schlitz, $3 micro taps and $2 Riverwest Stein. Get there early to snag a back booth, the prime location right next to a photo booth and a few pinball machines
3007 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 414-486-1344
Brothers Bar & Grill
Tues-Sat, 4-9 p.m. Exposed Cream City brick walls and aged hardwood floors lend a bit of history and class to this Water Street destination (even if they are cluttered with old reproduction advertising signs). The beer pong table, on the other hand, not so much. If you don’t know what beer pong is, then you probably didn’t attend college within the past decade. Suffice it to say, it’s a popular college party activity involving cups of beer, ping pong balls and, well, drinking. During happy hour, sip $2 rails and 14 oz domestic drafts, $3 calls and 14 oz craft drafts, and $4 top shelf and premium beers. Also, with a valid Student or Military ID, fill up on specials like 25 cent bone-in or boneless wings Wednesday night till 9 p.m.
1209 N. Water St., 414-224-1690
Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge
Tues-Fri, 5-9 p.m. As Sinatra and other swingin’ favorites stream from the sound system, the slick looking bartender gives the Happy Hour – or as Bryant’s calls it, the Cocktail Hour – schpeel, including $5 Depression era cocktails. Then the questions start as the bartender tries to help you narrow down the hundreds of drink options. Which flavors do you like? Do you prefer sweet or sour? What’s your booze of choice? The Brandy Old Fashioned was strong, but the subtle cherry sweetness made for a well-balanced cocktail. If you’re up for a challenge, try the “Brain Buster.” Finish that sucker and stumble home with a bumper sticker – if you’re not passed out on the bar.
1579 S. 9th St., 414-383-2620
Mon-Fri, 3-7 p.m. Before crowded Bradley Center events, the massive wood bar, dubbed “the longest bar east of the Mississippi,” doesn’t seem nearly long enough. But on a sparse summer weekday, the lonely 40 or so bar stools go on forever. But one doesn’t need a crowd to enjoy $1 off mixed drinks, beer and wine. Also, Bacardi rum runners and margaritas are just $5 and $3 off select appetizers.
1019 N. Old World Third St., 414-224-8500
Mon-Fri, 4-Midnight. The normally $10 cocktails are just 5 bucks apiece on Tuesdays at this friendly former home of Lakeside Inn. Much easier to swallow. Especially after your third… Do real men drink Cosmos? They should. Buckley’s are smooth, sweet and potent. Other options: Sidecar, Naughty Pommy, Godiva Chocoholic and the Buckin Punch (which the menu deems “Buckin delicious!!!”). Other nightly specials include half-price Guinness on Mondays, half-price bottled wine on Wednesdays and half-price craft and micro bottles on Thursdays.
801 N. Cass St., 414-277-1111
Mon-Fri, 3-7 p.m. The original section of Café Lulu is an old-school pastel colored diner. The connected bar next door is the exact opposite: a sleek and modern space with high ceilings and red leather chairs. The exposed Cream City brick and dull wooden floors add some depth and warmth to an otherwise clean, natural space. The bartenders are kind and helpful, as they slung taps, glasses of house wine and rail drinks ($1-off).
2261 S. Howell Ave., 414-294-5858
Mon-Fri, 3-6 p.m. City Lounge is an odd bar. Sitting on a desolate stretch of East Layton Avenue, it has a sort of upscale fantasy theme going on: one part streets of old Milwaukee, one part old-timey Wild West saloon. For example, there is a beautiful carved wood bar and a towering mirrored wall of liquor bottles alongside a giant barber poll, some reproduction power lines and a solar system ceiling mural. Not exactly a cohesive theme, but you won’t much care when you’re enjoying 2-for-1 taps and rail mixers.
3455 E. Layton Ave., 414-747-8408
Coach’s Pub ‘N’ Grill
Mon-Thurs, 3-6 p.m. Coach’s is a nice little neighborhood sports bar. Sunny and friendly and full of regulars, they offer a comfortable place to watch the game, grab a bite, and play some volleyball. On top of all that, their happy hour caters to every kind of drinker, with domestic mugs, domestic pints, domestic bottles, rails, calls and top shelfs ranging in price from $1.25 to $3.50.
5356 S. 13th St., 414-281-8175
Mon-Fri, 3-6 p.m. Comet’s happy hour (otherwise known as Beermergency) consists of $1cans of LaCrosse Lager and Hamm’s or $1 off a tap beer. Since they usually rotate their taps weekly, they continually maintain a fresh and diverse selection. Comet also offers nightly specials starting at 6 p.m. Classic Cocktail Tuesday is especially delightful. These $4 drinks are sweet and strong. Try the Harvey Wallbanger – a vodka, Galliano and orange juice combo that was a little too good. And don’t forget about the free bacon on Sundays.
1947 N. Farwell Ave., 414-273-7677
Daily, 4-6 p.m. A new addition to the Riverwest neighborhood in 2015. Company Brewing offers full size beers for “cupper” prices, as well as $6 tap wines, $6 tap cocktails and $5 appetizers to pair with your happy hour beverages. Tuesday nights are Beer Coin Burger Night! Try the featured burger and reap the rewards by earning a free beer coin, goof toward a Company Brewing tap or discounted wine, cocktail or guest tap.
135 E Center St. 414-930-0900
Mon-Fri, 3-6 p.m. A foreign concept to most Americans, Easy Tyger brings small plates to the city of Milwaukee. With a blend of Asian and American cuisines, the restaurant offers a fun and fitting atmosphere for its popular Brady Street location.
1230 East Brady St., 414-226-6640
Mon-Fri, 4 to 6 p.m. A sunny corner tap best known for its volleyball, Fat Daddy’s is a friendly place in Walker’s Point to grab a drink after work, even if you’re not the sand-loving type. Domestic taps are not only cheap – $2.50 for a pint – they’re 2-for-1 during happy hour, and most weekdays Daddy’s offers a $7 pitcher of featured beer. With pinball AND cigarette machines, a great jukebox, pleasant staff and easygoing local patrons, there’s pretty much nothing more you could ask for in a neighborhood tavern.
120 W. National Ave., 414-347-0524
Mon-Fri, 4-6:30 p.m. Who wants to pay $10.25 for wings when they can spend 5 bucks? Roll over to Firefly, the casual successor to Wauwatosa’s Bjonda, for select bar bites and shared plates for just $5. The catch is you need to be in the Skylight Lounge bar. Load up on spiced meat samosas, lamb sausage-feta pizza, calamari with chimichurri sauce, Gruyere and cheddar fondue, garlic fries and more. And don’t forget a drink with $1 off tap beer, $5 house wine and $5 Firefly mojitos.
7754 Harwood Ave., 414-431-1444
Frank’s Power Plant
Mon-Fri, 4 to 8 p.m. Frank’s multiple happy hour specials like $2 taps, $2 cans and $ Smirnoff tall cocktails. Treat yourself to dessert in the form of a $2 apple pie shot.Frank’s is stocked like your average bar and features microbrews along with the “z” beers: Blatz and Shlitz. Motorcycles were raised and adorned with strung lights and red-lit gas lanterns added to the namesake. The adjacent room featured a red felt pool table, an old time piano and a small stage for the occasional rock show.
2800 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 414-481-9200
Tues-Fri, 5-8 p.m. Each night at Fluid has its own special, such as Monday Madness (where 2-4-1 continues all night), Shake a Drink Tuesdays (where rolling the number of the day earns you a free drink from 8 p.m. – close) and JAMO Friday (with $3 Jameson shots from 9 p.m. – close). Ask your bartender for a martini (such as the Holly Go Lightly or the Tootsie Roll) or, if you catch him on a good day, ask for a custom drink, and you might end up with the delicious Sparkling Pear Martini.
819 S. Second St., 414-643-5843
Mon-Fri, 3-7 p.m. If you don’t like surprises, you should be warned now: Harbor Room caters primarily, if not exclusively, to a pretty specific crowd. Milwaukee’s (self-professed) Best Leather Bar, Harbor Room is a gay bar patronized by mostly older guys, but that doesn’t mean a gaggle of young ladies can’t have a great, if awkward, Friday afternoon singing along to Madonna on the jukebox. Harbor Room has a great patio, a pool table, especially during happy hour with two for one rails and domestics.
117 E. Greenfield Ave., 414-672-7988
Mon-Fri, 4-7 p.m. Closing Wolski’s, getting “Brain Busted” at Bryant’s, shooting pool at Landmark Lanes, and spending a happy hour on the deck at The Harp Irish Pub. All are Milwaukee bar scene rites of passage. It’s hard to beat the laid-back atmosphere on the Harp’s tiered wooden deck, and the combination of a warm sun and a cold $2 Miller Lite (or $3 rail cocktail if you prefer the hard stuff).
113 E. Juneau Ave., 414-289-0700
Harry’s Bar and Grill
Mon-Fri, 3-6 p.m. The early Friday crowd at Harry’s Bar & Grill seems to favor dining at several tables rather than bellying up at the long bar. That just ensures more room for happy hour aficionados. And there are plenty of deals to choose from: $2-$3 domestic taps, $4 house wines, and select martinis for just$5. And throw down another $5 for a small plate that can act as a dinner in itself. Who needs a table?
3549 N. Oakland Ave., 414-964-6800
Harvey’s Central Grille
Tues-Fri 4-6 p.m. Arrive at the former Chip and Py’s well-fueled. While gratis bowls of “Harvey’s bites” (a crisp snack mix) fleck the bartop, the nibbles are not enough to support your stomach for the “Five for $20” Wine Night special. That’s five full glasses of owner-selected wines – perhaps a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Barbera, Merlot and Shiraz. Want a bottle instead? Get one of the pre-selected for 20 bucks. Then call a cab.
1340 W. Towne Square Rd., 262-241-9589
Vermuteria 600 in Hotel Madrid
Daily 5-6 p.m. Experience the flavors of Spain without leaving the country. With a name like “Hotel Madrid,” it seems only fitting the bar serve homemade vermouth and sangria on tap. With rotating cocktail options from season to season, guests going back to Vermuteria 600 with each new cocktail feature. Happy hour features half off all bar food and drink menu items. And when we say all, we mean ALL.
600 S 6th St, 414-488-9146
Hi Hat Lounge
Mon-Fri, 4-7 p.m. Hi Hat Lounge is the happy hour to enjoy a new food and drink specials every night Try a $5 third pound burger on Monday or $8 Ramen Wednesdays with either pork or tofu. Add a half price glass of wine, tap beer, or rail cocktail and you are set for a fancy evening under $20.
1701 N. Arlington Pl., 414-225-9330
Tues-Fri 3-6:30 p.m. Replacing what used to be Haute Taco, Jake’s Burgers has big shoes to fill – and it seems they’ve succeeded thus far. Included on Food Network’s “51 Top Burgers from Coast to Coast,” Jake’s offers burgers for any and all taste preferences. In addition to getting your meat fix, come in for discounted drinks during happy hour; drinks like $2.90 tall boys, $3.50 draft beer, $4.90 margaritas or $5 house wines.
18905 W Capitol Dr. #110, 262-781-1110
Leff’s Lucky Town
Mon-Fri, 3-6 p.m. Leff’s Lucky Town is a simple neighborhood bar and a popular happy hour destination, offering 50 cents off all beers and cocktails, $1 off pitchers and daily food specials, such as Meat Cake Mondays ($5.50build your own burger), Finger Lickin’ Tuesdays (50 cent wings), or Mexicellent Wednesdays ($3.25 Tacos and $5.50 Nachos). Their patio is a perfect spot to spend the final days of summer.
7208 W. State St., 414-258-9886
Mon-Thurs, 3-6 p.m.; Fri, 3-7 p.m. The “free drink” chip is a great concept. You feel like you’ve won something, that you’ve outsmarted the bar and now they owe you. Libby Montana hands out the valuable trinkets during its 2-for-1 happy hour. The wooden tokens are reason enough for those working in nearby office parks to flock to the roadhouse while the popular adjoining patio has room for all North Shore drones looking for refuge. 5616 W. Donges Bay Rd., 262-242-2232
Daily, 4-6 p.m. Fresh oysters every day during happy hour for just $1! What’s better than that? How about another buck off all drinks, as well as fried green tomatoes and peel-n-eat shrimp. Comfortunder the faux-crystal chandeliers at this West Side Cajun haven isn’t limited to gumbo and fried oyster po’ boys. We’re talking humdinger mojitos, with the mint appropriately muddled and the syrup blending smoothly with the rum. And on Mojito Mondays, these beauties go for just $5. Other specials: Rack ‘N’ Mac Thursdays featuring new specialty Mac ‘n’ Cheeses weekly.
6732 W. Fairview Ave., 414-292-3969
Tues-Fri, 4-6 p.m. All the comforts of urban American food brought to you at Merriment Social, right off the Milwaukee River. From burgers to beer, Merriment’s array of selections outnumbers most others in the city. Indulge in the $5 featured burger of the week –maybe two if you’re lucky. Dumplings are just a buck. Also featured during happy hour, $2 off a cocktail, beer or wine of your choice.
240 E Pittsburgh Ave, 414-645-0240
MOTOR at the Harley Davidson Museum
Mon-Fri, 3-6 p.m., Get on your bikes and ride on over to MOTOR Bar & Restaurant, connected to the Harley Davidson Museum on Canal Street. With two for one happy hour drinks, there’s all the more reason to stop by! Choose from brews like Wisconsin Betray Ale or a Gin Apple Mule. Heck, with two for one, you don’t even have to choose!
401 W. Canal St. 414-287-2778
Mustang Shelly’s Roadhouse
Mon-Fri, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Probably as close to a real-life backwoods biker joint as you’re likely to find in the Metro Milwaukee area, Mustang Shelly’s is tucked away on a winding stretch of road in New Berlin. Shelly’s scores major points for starting their happy hour before noon with 50 cents off all drinks. The specials only get sweeter with $4 cheeseburgers on Wednesdays and $1.50 tacos on Thursday.
18540 W. National Ave., 262-679-2221
North Star American Bistro
Mon-Wed, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Thurs, 4-7 p.m. Three dollars for a glass of house wine? They can do better than that, and they do. The real deals at this modern, convivial Brookfield restaurant are the half-price apps ($4-5 each). It’s not a long menu, but it’s a good one. Some highlights: crab cakes on horseradish vinaigrette-dressed greens; fried calamari served with marinara sauce; and pan-seared, pine nut-crusted goat cheese medallions with crostini and apple slaw. On Thursdays, come early for the start of progressive happy hour, featuring $2 drinks from 4-5 p.m., $3 drinks from 5-6 p.m. and $4 drinks from 6-7 p.m.
19115 W. Capitol Dr., 262-754-1515
Oak & Oyster (at Third Coast Provisions)
Mon-Fri, 4-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-midnight. Discover Third Coast Provision’s relaxed lower level. Oak & Oyster puts more emphasis on alcohol, while keeping with the restaurant’s seafood themed style. Stop by for your choice of oyster shooter or choose from a list of six different cocktails. Before you climb upstairs for a sophisticated seafood dinner, satisfy your thirst, and maybe even your hunger, with $1 oysters, $2 shrimp cocktails, $3 oyster sliders, $3 Miller High Lifes or a $5 weekly po-boy.
724 N Milwaukee St, 414-323-7434
Old German Beer Hall
Daily, 11 a.m.-close. The Old German Beer Hall – part of a nationwide network of Hofbrauhaus licensed by Bavaria’s state brewery – is about as close to Europe as you can get in downtown Milwaukee, with soccer (sorry – I mean football) on the TV, ladies in dirndls and either really great polka music or really loud German dancehall music on the stereo. The Hall is known, of course, for its liters of Hofbrau and its shot-skis (a round of five shots, served, yes, on a ski). Athappy hour on Wednesdays, liters are served with $1.50 Pig Wing! And because everything is better free, don’t miss free beer Fridays at starting at 6 p.m.
1009 N. Old World Third St., 414-226-2728
Pastiche at Hotel Metro
Daily 3-7 p.m. Wake up with Pastiche, end your day at Pastiche, but most importantly, join Pastiche for happy hour any day during the week! The restaurant’s luxurious setting inside downtown Milwaukee’s Hotel Metro offers the freshest and finest ingredients in each dish served. From weekend brunch to mid-day tapas, Pastiche offers French oriented dishes sun up to sun down. Tapas are served from 3-10 p.m., and range from $5-$15. Take part in happy hour from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. every day. Fri-Sat, get $3 tap beer, $4 house wines or choose from a list of specialty cocktails from 7 p.m.-close.
411 E Mason St., 414-225-3270
Ray’s on South
Mon-Fri, 3-6 p.m. Enjoy a quiet moment during happy hour at Ray’s with $2 domestic beers, $3 rails and a different daily $4 martini special (for example: cosmos on Mondays; watermelon on Wednesdays; caribbean on Fridays). If you plan to stick around for dinner they also offer several dinner specials, including $10 family pasta bowl or $12 lasagna (Wednesdays), $15 1/2 Rack baby back ribs (Thursdays) and a $15 Friday Fish Fry.
225 South St., 262-522-6450
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
Mon-Fri, 3-6:30 p.m. Rock Bottom is an anomaly: a national chain in the heart of the city with craft brews that taste anything but corporate. Their best asset – aside from their expansive patio on the Riverwalk – has to be their happy hour. Join a downtown professional crowd $2 off taps of crisp in-house brews or one of Brewmaster David Bass’s signature seasonal specialties. The menu includes both comforting bar food – giant pretzels, nachos and buffalo wings – and head-scratching fusion foods like Tex-Asian Potstickers, Edamame and Thai-fried shrimp. The Calamari Jumble – tempura-battered calamari, green beans, pickles, baby corn and shiitake mushrooms – is especially delicious.
740 N. Plankinton Ave., 414-276-3030
Supper at Shorecrest Hotel
Mon-Fri 3-6 p.m. Supper clubs have been around since before most of us can recall, but that doesn’t mean the idea is outdated. Supper at Shorecrest Hotel features the dual delight of modern cuisine mixed with the supper club setting. With the perfect atmosphere to relax during cocktail hour, head to Supper weekdays between 3-6 p.m. for two for one Old Fashioneds + Gimlets, $5 glass wine pours or half off any tap beer. Pair a happy hour beverage with a bite to eat, including tomato ragu, poutine, steamed mussels or char-broiled wings.
1962 N Prospect Ave, 414-509-6074
Thief Wine Bar
Mon-Fri, 4-6 p.m. No ear-splitting music? No darkened alcoves? No problem. Thief Wine Bar doesn’t hide in the shadows. Smack in the middle of Milwaukee Public Market’s concourse, it boasts different daily specials, including 15 percent off all carafes on Tuesdays, 15 percent off all flights on Wednesdays and, best of all, $4 glasses of wine on Fridays. Sipping a deep red Lelia Grenache 2008 while the market bustles about you feels like a sophisticated steal. Or visit the Shorewood location (open later in the day) for a friendly, neighborhood vibe.
Milwaukee Public Market – 400 N. Water St., 414-277-7707
Shorewood – 4512 N Oakland Ave. 414-906-1906